New Statistical Account (1840) Parish of Kilmuir Wester and Suddy

Knockbain Community Collage
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Sir John Sinclair, Baronet of Ulbster in Caithness standing in front of map of Ross and Cromarty

The Second Statistical Account (1834 - 1845)

The New (or Second) Statistical Account of Scotland built on the previous work carried out by Sir John Sinclair for the First Statistical Accounts by including the knowledge of local doctors and schoolmasters. The Second Statistical Accounts were published between 1834 and 1845.

Knockbain History

New Statistical Account (1840) for the Parish of Kilmuir Wester and Suddy (Knockbain)

The following is a transcription of the actual Account of the Parish of Kilmuir Wester and Suddy from the second or new Statistical Account of Scotland (dated 1840).

The Rev. Allan McKenzie*
* Drawn up by the late incumbent, the Rev. Roderick M'Kenzie.


Name - KILMUIR signifies in Gaelic "a church dedicated to Mary" and Suddy "a good place to settle in". The parish is now commonly called Knockbain, from the name of the spot on which the kirk and manse are built. It is bounded on the south by the Moray Frith; on the north-west by part of the parish of Killearnan. Its length from east to west is 5 to 6 miles; and from south to north from 6 to 7.

Geology - The rocks in this parish belong to the old red sand-stone formation of geologists.


Antiquities - It is generally understood that a battle took place in this parish, in the thirteenth century, between the Macdonalds and the inhabitants of Inverness. The field on which it happened is called Blair-na-coi, and it still bears the vestiges of many cairns placed there as a monument of the event.

Eminent Men - Among the distinguished characters born in this parish, may be mentioned the late General Mackenzie. John Randall Mackenzie was the son of Mackenzie of Suddy, a very old family in this county. He early entered into the marine service of his country, and afterwards went into the line, where he rose to the rank of major-general.
He was a man of the highest honour, most pleasing disposition, and agreeable manners - a universal favourite.
For a considerable period he was Member of Parliament for the county of Sutherland, and died most gallantly while supporting one of the wings of the British army at Talavera. A monument was, with great justice, erected to his memory in St Paul's by the Government of the county.


Population in 1811 - 1766
1821 - 1973
1831 - 2139

No nobility reside within the bounds of this parish, but there are several persons of independent fortune, besides the heritors, who are accommodated with large farms, good habitable houses, and commodious squares, built at the expense of the proprietor, Mr Mackenzie of Kilcoy.

The number of families in the parish -  503
The number of families chiefly employed in agriculture - 217
The number of families chiefly employed in trade, manufactures, or handicraft - 52

The people are remarkably healthy, and subject to no other diseases than those common to the country.


Agriculture - The number of imperial acres in cultivation is 3050, on which are grown wheat, barley, oats, pease, grass, turnip, and potatoes. There is no undivided common. The remainder of the land is covered with plantations of Scotch fir, larch, trees of various descriptions, and a large plantation of oak lately made by Mr Mackenzie of Kilcoy.

The parish of Kilmuir Wester and Suddy comprises part of the lands of several proprietors, and contains nearly as follows, imperial standard measure:-

1. Belmaduthy, Knockbain, Muirends, Munlochy, Wester Kessock, and Drumderfit, belonging to Colin Mackenzie, Esq. 1643 acres, 0 roods, 15 poles, arable; 7 poles, pasture; total 5660 acres, 3 roods.
2. Allangrange, belonging to George F. Mackenzie, Esq. 1007 acres, 0 roods, 4 poles, arable; 943 acres, 1 rood, 30 poles, wood; 397 acres, 2 roods, 8 poles, pasture; total, 2348 acres, 0 roods, 2 poles.
3. Easter Kessock, belonging to the trustees of Sir William Fettes, Bart. 187 acres, 2 roods, 23 poles, arable; 406 acres, 1 roods, 15 poles.
4. Drynie, belonging to George Graham, Esq. 620 acres, 1 rood, 30 poles, arable; 465 acres, 0 roods, 21 poles, wood; 539 acres, 1 rood, 14 poles, pasture; total 1624 acres, 3 roods, 25 poles.
5. Suddie belonging to Sir James W. Mackenzie, Bart.- the exact number of acres not known.

In such an extent of arable land, every variety of soil and sub-soil is to be found, but the following statement may be considered nearly correct: clay loam, three twelfths; sandy loam, four; moory soil, two; alluvial deposit, one; moss, one; gravel, one.

The soil is, in general, good, but great part of the subsoil is rather retentive, probably five-twelfths of it.

The plantations are chiefly fir (common fir, with a mixture of larch) but upon Allangrange and at Belmaduthy House all the varieties of hard wood are to be found growing to maturity; and upon Kilcoy's property, there is a considerable extent of planted oak, for which he received a premium from the Highland Society. Upon a great part of the pasture- ground, a stratum of iron crust intervenes betwixt a shallow vegetable mould and a deep clay soil, with a mixture of loose gravel or broken sandstone; and without the process of trenching, no species of trees would grow to maturity, but, if trenched to the depth of from eighteen to fourteen inches, the whole would be well adapted for arable cultivation.

The property of Allangrange was laid off, enclosed, and improved in the most judicious manner (previously to the date of the last Statistical Account, in which the improvements are particularly detailed) by the proprietor himself, whose strong mind and vigorous understanding, made him loom beyond the age in which he lived. He left but few acres of his property in an unproductive state, and, as he anticipated, his son now reaps the full benefit of his judicious application of capital. On Easter Kessock, the late Sir William Fettes had not commenced on the same scale in which he carried on at Redcastle, in the parish of Killearnan. But upon Muirends, Munlochy, and Bellfield, of Wester Kessock, to the great credit of the proprietor,considerable improvements have been completed. Belmaduthy, Kilcoy's present seat, was previously improved. On Muirends, which forms an extensive tract of very fine land, the farms have been made of convenient size, with regular boundaries. All the waste ground, after laying off ornamental clumps, has been reclaimed at a considerable expense by the proprietor himself, and new leases of nineteen years have been granted without any rise of rent; and the tenants, who now labour according to the rules of good husbandry, are farther encouraged by an advance of money for the purchase of lime. At Munlochy, similar improvements, to be executed by the tenants, have been conditioned for on the renewal of leases, at rents proportionally moderate, according to the outlay required. and, in particular, upon a large farm of fine alluvial soil, a lease of thirty years has been granted, and a considerable allowance given to a gentleman of capital and enterprise, on condition of his bringing into cultivation about twenty acres of wet land, at present lying waste, and of reclaiming from the sea, by raising proper embankments, between thirty and forty acres of excellent carse land, the proprietor being, besides the allowance, at the whole expense of enclosures and suitable buildings. At Bellfield, or Wester Kessock, the same proprietor has let another considerable farm to a gentleman of property, at the same rent previously paid, although he has been at the great expense of erecting a most complete new set of offices, and handsome dwelling-house, and has agreed to enclose the whole with hedges and stone dikes, and to allow the tenant L.5 per acre for reclaiming waste land. This part pays stipend to Killearnan, although it was annexed quoad sacra to the parish of Kilmuir Wester. But, of all the farms in the parish, Drumderfit is the one which pays the greatest rent, being the most extensive and conspicuous. It has been for centuries in the possession of the same family, of whom the present occupant, Robert Logan, Esq., banker, London, is the lineal descendant and representative. This gentleman has brought it to the highest state of improvement, at a great expense of capital, but he will be entitled to receive from his landlord, at the end of his lease, a very liberal sum for meliorations. The various and extensive properties of Colin Mackenzie, Esq. of Kilcoy, will soon, in consequence of the judicious outlay of capital, present a very beautiful and highly cultivated appearance, and will, in a great degree, reward the proprietor himself, although the full benefit of them can be expected to be reaped only by his family; and it is hoped that his example will b followed by the other proprietors, neither of whom has so much to do as he has already executed in the parish.

Rate of Wages - Farm-servants are hired at the following rate, viz., ploughman from L.7 to L.8 of wages annually, 6 bolls of meal, with as much potato land as he can cover with manure, 6 barrels of coal, with a free house and free lodging; female servants for L.3 a-year; boys and girls in proportion.

Live-stock - The farmer's stock consists of cows and horses. No sheep are kept but such as gentlemen use for their own tables. For several years back, the heritors have been in the habit of liming their fields. Some of them use bone-dust for turnip, and so convinced are the people of the benefit of lime, that even the smallest farmer has begun the use of it. When I wrote the former Statistitical Account, there was only one tenant in this parish who paid a rent above L.60, but now there are several who pay from L.200 to L.300 a-year. The leases in general are of nineteen years duration, some even of thirty, upon improving leases.

Heritors -The heritors in this parish, as before noticed, are 5 in number: Mackenzie of Allangrange, who is principal heritor; Mackenzie of Kilcoy, who has purchased, since last Report, part of the estate of Belmaduthy, where he has built a princely domicile, with a fine square of every other suitable accommodation; Graham of Drynie, who lives in France; Sir James Mackenzie, proprietor of the two Suddies, the one acquired by marriage with the daughter of Mackenzie of Suddy, the other by purchase from Matheson of Bennatsfield; and the Trustees of the late Sir William Fettes, Bart.

The heritors are very active in improving their lands, by draining, irrigation, and embanking, especially Mackenzie of Allangrange. Sir William Fettes was at great expense in building piers at the Ferry of Kessock, one on each side, with suitable houses for the accommodation of the public The ferry is now supposed to draw in the way of rent L.800 a-year, being a rise of L.650, since the time when the former Statistical Account was drawn up.


A steam-boat was attempted on the ferry, but as it did not succeed, it was necessary to return to the use of the former boats, slightly improved. There is no ferry in Scotland better attended to.

Market-Towns - There are no market-towns in this parish, but no inconvenience arises from this, as Inverness is so near. Several other markets are held in the neighbourhood.

Villages - There are two villages, one at Munlochy,the other on the coast, laid out by the late Kilcoy, opposite the north entrance of the Caledonian Canal, and greatly encouraged by the present Kilcoy.

Means of Communication - There is one post-office in the parish. Carriages daily pass on the Parliamentary roads, through the parish, with great safety; no interruptions occurring from want of bridges, which are all in good repair.

Ecclesiastical State - The minister's stipend amounts now to 15 chalders, half bear, half meal, with L.10 for communion elements, instead of 9 chalders and 1 boll of barley, 3 chalders and 3 bolls of oatmeal, with L.3. 6s. 8d. for communion elements, which it was formerly, making the present stipend of less value than the former. The church was repaired about twenty years ago, when it received an addition which contains 250 hearers, so that the church now holds from 700 to 800, and is in perfectly good repair. There is no Government church in this parish, and neither missionaries, seceding chapels, nor Roman Catholics. There is one Episcopal chapel attended by 130 persons belonging to this parish, and as many more from the neighbouring parishes. The minister is supported by the seat rents.

Education - There are two established schools. The one is parochial, and the schoolmaster's salary is L.33, with suitable accommodation; the other, commonly called Principal Baird's school, is supported by the General Assembly's Committee. The salary is L.25; and there are school fees. In these schools, are taught English reading, writing, arithmetic, and the lower Latin classics. Besides, there are other two schools, one taught at the Episcopal chapel, the other an itinerating school supported by the farmers who live at a distance from the parish school. The inhabitants are sensible of the advantages they derive from these schools, but another is very much wanted.


Since the former Statistical Report was given in, the face of the parish has been greatly changed for the better, so much so that, between agriculture and plantations of various kinds of wood, there is scarcely and acre remaining in its natural state.

I cannot omit mentioning a plan which Mr Mackenzie of Kilcoy has lately adopted for the improvement of his uncultivated moors; he has let them for thirty years at a small rent, beginning with 1s. per acre, with an increase at the end of every seven years of 6d. per acre to the end of the lease, and at that rent to continue for the remainder of their lives, by which means the parish is supplied with a sufficient number of labourers and a total stop is put to emigration from his estate.

For several years, a constant trade has been carried on in this parish with Newcastle and Hull, fir props being exported to both these places, and the returning ships bringing lime and coal. This not only affords constant employment for the people, but supplies their families with abundance of brushwood, of which they stood much in need
There is no complaint arising from the want of labour.

The rent of this parish at last report was L.3545. It now amounts to L.6000.


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